Professional development is a strange thing, and even stranger in the teaching profession. By definition, professional development is the process of learning to earn, or maintain, professional credentials. In the education sector,so often this is associated with an external course, a train journey away, in a big hall, with a lead speaker delivering from the front. While there is a time and a place for this, that time is not now, and that place is not Northants.
To truly understand the potential far reaching ramifications that could (and hopefully will) spiral out from Educating Northants, there must be an understanding of education in the county, and where it has been. In the last 30 years of my life, I have been in the education system outside of Northamptonshire for only 6 years (2 years leading at a school in Bedfordshire and 4 years at University in London). I have seen the system in this county from the point of view of a student, teacher and leader and have a genuine grasp of what it is like. Insular is the word I would use. My two years in Bedfordshire led to more interactions with teachers from other schools, local schools, competing schools, than at any other point in my teaching career. It is these interactions that breed improvement, innovation and success. Unfortunately these interactions haven’t happened as organically as they should have in our county.
The vibrant, celebratory, upbeat and uplifting nature of the whole of Educating Northants was a breath of fresh air. There was a genuine buzz before and during the event, and I know it is continuing after it too. AND it was an event; it’s the only way to describe it. It was not a course, a lecture, a workshop but an event, an occasion of importance, of public importance! Staff from all over the county interacted fluidly and organically, old friends were reunited (within the first hour I counted 20 ex-colleagues who I was so excited to see!). And then the edu-celebrities, the edu-twitterati, the key researchers in their field, Ofsted inspectors, data gurus, the list goes on. Never in all my career on courses, global teachmeets, hub meetings and key note talks have I ever had the opportunity to talk, discuss and formulate new ideas with people that care so much about the future of young people. This is real professional development, enriching for the soul, and leading to new professional learning.
Reflecting on the event, now is the time to push on, for school to school support to occur and ensure we all develop to instigate real social change. Northamptonshire does contain areas of social deprivation, but it also contains areas, communities and schools that are great success stories. Schools across the county, MAT or no MAT can, and should support each other, sharing expertise and enjoying the wonderful sector that we work in, for the betterment of the young people we teach. This is an opportunity for the educators of Northamptonshire, not just the wonderful people at Educating Northants, to led and inspire the pupils of this county and show them what a fantastic place it is to be.
I for one hope, and believe, this moment that passed on Saturday 30th March 2019, becomes a movement.